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A Brief History of SNAP®

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SNAP® is built on three decades of solid research, innovative program development and stringent evaluation. Throughout this impressive history, SNAP has also been recognized by several national and international bodies and has received numerous prestigious awards and designations.


  • In the late 1970s, a staff member at the former Earlscourt Child and Family Centre, now Child Development Institute, develops the early SNAP strategy for behaviourally troubled children in a day treatment program. 


  • 1982: Camp Wimodausis, the first Toronto-based specialized day camp for children ages 6 to 11 whose social and behaviour problems would otherwise prevent them from attending a summer day camp, launches.
  • 1985: The SNAP strategy is further enhanced and developed into a manualized and multi-faceted model called the SNAP Under 12 Outreach Project (SNAP ORP), now known as SNAP Boys, for boys under 12 in conflict with the law. A team of scientists and practitioners, including Kenneth Goldberg, Kathryn Levene, Leena Augimeri, Elizabeth Leggett, Camille Hannays and Dr. Debra Pepler develop the program. Over the years other staff, including Kathy Williams, Nicola Slater, Carl Riley, Christopher Koegl, Karen Sewell, Dr. David Day and Dr. Christopher Webster also make significant contributions to the development of the model. 


  • 1994: SNAP youth programming is developed to support SNAP graduates as they move through adolescence. Today, youth can participate in a number of treatment components through SNAP Youth Leadership Services, including leadership clubs, employment counselling, a summer Leaders in Training Program, school advocacy and tutoring, individual and family counselling, parent workshops and victim restitution.
  • 1996: SNAP Girls Connection – now called SNAP Girls – the first-ever sustained, gender-specific program for behaviourally troubled girls and their families launches. We recognized a significant gap in programming and research to address the unique factors influencing girl aggression and created SNAP Girls to fill this gap.
  • 1998: The Early Assessment Risk List for Boys (EARL-20B) launches. This comprehensive psychosocial risk assessment framework focuses specifically on young children in trouble with the law. The 20 questions in the manual assist practitioners in identifying risk factors associated with future antisocial behaviour in children.
  • 1999: The Toronto Centralized Services Protocol for Children Under 12 in Conflict with the Law launches in conjunction with the Toronto Police Service. The Toronto Protocol provides at-risk children and their families with access to timely services in their own community through a central intake line. The first of its kind, the Toronto Protocol is the model for over 10 similar protocols across Canada.

2000 and beyond

  • 2001: The Centre for Children Committing Offences is established to advance evidence-based approaches for children under age 12 who have had, or are at risk of having police conflict resulting from their aggressive and/or delinquent behaviour.
  • 2001: The Early Assessment Risk List for Girls (EARL-21G) launches. It is a comprehensive gender-specific psychosocial risk assessment tool focused on young girls (6-11years) with disruptive behavioural issues.
  • 2002: The SNAP Schools model pilot launches in collaboration with the St. Paul Public School Board in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Positive results support SNAP as a robust intervention that can be adapted in classrooms. A number of school boards in Canada and abroad have now adopted SNAP Schools.
  • 2003: Banyan Community Services in Hamilton, Ontario is the first organization to fully replicate the SNAP Boys and SNAP Girls programs. This success proves that SNAP can be replicated as an effective evidence-based program.
  • 2009: The SNAP Youth Outreach Project launches.This intervention/prevention program focuses on community outreach, development and engagement for youth ages 13-17 in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood.
  • 2013: SNAP is selected as LEAP: The Centre for Social Impact’s first project to receive support and capacity building expertise from LEAP and its sector partners, including the Boston Consulting Group, Cossette, Ernst and Young, McCarthy Tetrault and the Offord Group. With the help and support of LEAP, CDI launches the SNAP National Expansion Campaign, with the goal of making SNAP available to an additional 20,000 children and families across Canada by 2019.
  • 2014: The SNAP Youth Justice Model launches. Using innovative tablet technology, this program aims to reduce the risk of further contact with the law and/or gang membership among males between the ages of 12 and 19 who are involved in the youth justice system, either in custody, on probation and/or in the community.

“I knew I had two options: keep being a bully, fighting and probably ending up in jail, or finding a new way of life. SNAP helped me learn how to control my anger and got me on the path I’m on today.”